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ADHD cannot be cured, but it can be successfully managed. In most cases, ADHD is treated with medication and behavioral therapy. The usual course of treatment may include medications such as methylphenidate or dextroamphetamine. These are stimulants that decrease impulsivity and hyperactivity and increase attention.
Common ADHD medication may not work for every person. Some may have side effects such as sleep problems, loss of appetite, and stomach aches. The doctor needs to monitor and make adjustments along the way. Parents should follow-up with the doctor and communicate to him or her how the child is responding to the medication. The doctor will make adjustments to the medication dose or may even change the medication. In some cases, he or she may recommend a non-stimulant or an antidepressant medication. Most experts agree that treatment for ADHD should not be limited to the use of medications alone.Treatment should include behavioral therapy. In behavioral therapy, the therapist works with the parents to develop methods to replace undesirable behaviors of the child with the desired behavior. This is done through a system of rewards and discipline. Rewards are more effective in changing problem behaviors than disciplining. This is an example of a reward: A child has trouble staying seated. He receives a behavior plan that states for every 15 minutes he stays seated, he will earn 1 gold star. The child reached the goal 4 times, so he received 4 gold stars. Later, he trades the stars for a reward. This is an example of discipline: The same child was unable to stay seated two times. His behavior plan states that every time he fails to stay seated, he must take a 5 minutes time-out during recess. The child earned two time outs for not staying seated, so he missed 10 minutes of recess. There is a lot of parent involvement with behavioral therapy. Teachers and other childcare workers should also be included. Each behavioral therapy plan is specifically designed for the child, taking into consideration the child’s specific problem behavior and the environmental conditions at home and at school.